HUFVUD HATMAKER | Defining Moment | EXCLUSIVE INSIGHT
HUFVUD HATMAKER | Defining Moment
I believe everyone will experience an epic day in our life that changes everything. As violent as a waterfall it shifts our entire image of who we are for the better. Without knowing why and how it happen in the first place, the ripples from that single decision weaves new pathways and patterns that is our life to be. It’s one of those mysterious moments one would look back on several times to try to understand what was going on. This post is about a day where I found myself making a decision that would profoundly alter my own timeline.
It truly was my defining moment, 21st of April 2017. Sitting in my 110 sq. ft. apartment (average size of a bathroom?) in Hong Kong, the city I worked in at the time, I contemplated on all I had ever achieved in my life. The rain slammed on the single apartment window, overlooking a concrete jungle of Wan Chai area in downtown Hong Kong Island. On the tile floor stood my first ever wooden block with a half finished fedora.
I was alone. Eight months before I had left Shanghai due to an unstable job market. For ten years I had lived in Asia. I left behind friends and loved ones for one final push and attempt to save a career in retail. Saving costs was more important than improving service quality in a declining luxury market. Hong Kong was no different from the rest. The mantra and actions were the same. I was considered a fool for focusing on improving service delivery by each of my staff that ultimately would increase company profit.
For a split second, time stood still. The rain slowed down. I had my defining moment. Thoughts began to spin through my mind.
I do not deserve this, I thought. There must be another way. What I am doing is not helping me and it sure is not helping anyone else. I can have a better impact on other peoples lives. Create something that others can enjoy and where I can experience true fulfillment. Respect. There was only one thing to do, get out and get out fast.
Fear was hanging over me. What I was about to do did not feel right. What I was thinking didn’t make sense. Where was my feasibility study to back up my intended entrepreneurial endeavor? I had nothing to go on.
Before I knew it, I had picked up my laptop and started to type my last ever employee email, in the middle of a work week. "Good evening, I quit." Sent to my boss, cc Head of HR. The email returned a few minutes later by the Head of HR, "What!?". My mind had changed from cloudy to crystal clear. The fear was gone, for the time being, and I understood what I just had done. I became the master of my own Kingdom.
I had just found out why. Hats. No idea how, but why not? I knew, however, why I wanted to make hats. I didn’t want mass production. I wanted individual made to measure hats. As vintage looking as possible. No material waste and limited use of plastic in anything. Help to keep a specific craftsmanship alive. Best of all, I wanted to listen and provide the best service possible for any client who allowed me to create their fedora.
Crafting something by hand appealed to me. I was ready enter a world of craftsmanship I knew nothing about. I wanted to take on the big luxury brands and show them what true luxury is all about. Great service and individual crafted items that last. Thrilled with excitement I told my closest friends and loved one. They were doubtful could truly understand the meaning of the expression, mad as a hatter.
If you ever experience this, it's where you find out who truly is your friend or foe. Who truly loves you or is just there for the ride. Broken heart and/or broken band of brothers.
I gave up a steady monthly income and I killed my career. Burned every bridge i had (Not recommended). One month after, I was on a plane back to Sweden and dumped my suitcase in my childhood room at my parents house. This was how it was going to be. Live at home at the age of 33 and build a garage workshop to start HUFVUD. I had scraped enough capital to get started and I prepared for long years ahead (three perhaps?).
My parents thought I had lost my mind. Creating hats in a society where people don't wear hats anymore. But that was the point. My hats were not for the masses. It would be individually tailored. They had mixed thoughts on what I was doing. Not until I sold my first hat, seven months later, did they start to believe that I was on to something. Proof of concept. In no way was this an easy journey. Admiration mixed with rejections from local stores to take on my work for commission was happening every week. As the time passed I started to feel the failure emerging. Great big fear.
I think my father could sense how it was eating away inside of me. I stayed up late, worked early in the morning to finish up project after project. Every day of the week, including weekends. Learning by doing and practicing what I saw in vintage hats. But I had to keep going. The fear fueled my creativity and drive to push on. It was going to be this or back to soul eating nine to five job (8 to 10 as before). I had not career left to return to. As I said before, bridges were burnt.
A year later, I had sold more hats than I could ever imagine. Every single cent went back into development for tools and materials. No salary. Instant noodles and water. I admit, I had it better than most who have gone through what I have. My aging parents had my back if needed, but I didn’t feel I deserved it. I wanted to make it work on my own. I did not want charity or investors. I had manage to make HUFVUD self sufficient, the revenue was enough to keep operation costs and supplies funded.
Looking back, what I felt was a waste of years in Asia was in fact the beginning and the build up, preparation, of something far greater than I could imagine. I now have my own home, with a simple studio to create hats in. Still very simple studio but it is enough to make amazing hats in. That, came from life savings. Best of all HUFVUD is still alive and thriving. That’s all because of you.
All of this for one single moment. One defining moment, 21st of April 2017.
Final Words and take away
What I want for you to learn, or anyone looking to make a leap of faith, is simple. Be ready to give up a lot, if not everything, to go on a journey where you have to accept that you will never ever arrive to your destination. It's a journey where you are never finished, there are always room for improvement and they should be made step by step. No shortcuts or compromises. Better to move slow than too fast and always, frequently, celebrate small victories. If possible, never travel alone.
Along the way I found true love. She fell in love with me despite my current situation, because she could see and feel the energy of my soul. I do not have to travel alone anymore. I also met new friends that inspire me every day and are an equal part to the success of HUFVUD.
I will always celebrate the 21st of April by looking back and being thankful for everything that has happened. There are no regrets.
What really keeps me going is the acknowledgement and appreciation i receive from clients all around the world. My hat off to you who patiently wait months for a fedora made by my hands. Know that every stitch are as important as the next.
I hope I inspire future wonders of bravery and success.
Love and regards,
Mikael Einarsson | HUFVUD HATMAKER | Lund, Sweden